[Clarification: “Driving buses around almost-unused streetcar turnback loops” is an example of institutional inertia rather than political interference by the council. The canonical recent example of council interference is the continuation of Route 42 after Central Link entered service and Metro staff proposed its abolition.]
Ever wonder why I write so much about reliability, simplicity and efficiency in our bus network? It’s because much of our bus network is terribly designed, and it’s costing us in money, ease of use, service frequency, and ridership.
The map above distills the information contained in an internal Metro spreadsheet STB has obtained, which provides a fully costed-out schedule for a budget neutral restructure of bus service on the extremely busy Queen Anne / Downtown / First Hill / Madrona corridor. I alluded to this in last week’s discussion of Route 4.
It illustrates a point I’ve made in previous discussions, namely that Metro knows how to build good bus networks, but due to a combination of institutional inertia and political interference by the King County Council, Metro is still driving buses around almost-unused streetcar turnback loops from a century ago. What’s missing is not the smarts to redesign these routes, but the leadership to implement the necessary changes.
This schedule was developed as part of the internal deliberations for the potential 600,000 hour cut scenario that has been avoided thanks to the passage of the $20 CRC. This funding reprieve must not cause Metro to lose its new-found zeal for efficiency restructures such as the one described above, that are overwhelmingly in the interest of riders and the taxpayer, but are certain to draw organized protest from the small number of people for whom the current configuration happens to work very well.
Over the course of the next week, I’ll present the spreadsheet and get into the nuts and bolts of how and why this schedule works, along with other improvements that this restructure would enable.
For readers unable to read the map, a textual summary of its contents after the jump.
- Route 4 is deleted in its entirety.
- Route 3’s terminus in North Queen Anne is moved to Seattle Pacific University, the current terminus of the 13.
- The northern section of Route 2 (but not the 2X) is deleted.
- The southern section of Route 2 is moved to Madison from Seneca, live-looped downtown on the Madison/Marion couplet at 1st Ave. The current schedule would be maintained.
- Route 3 would operate from early morning to 10 PM as a frequent service route from SPU to Madrona, every 10 minutes in the peak, every 15 minutes at other times.
- Route 13 would operate at with the same frequency and span of service as Route 3, from SPU to the Central District (23rd & Jefferson) during weekday daytimes, to Pioneer Square (3rd & Main) at all other times.
- These two routes would be interlined at all times to ensure even headways downtown, providing double frequency (i.e. 5 mins peak, 7.5 mins off-peak) downtown and, during weekday daytimes, to First Hill and the Central District.
- The 2X is extended from the current terminus to SPU then west on Nickerson.
- For the sake of clarity in this textual description, I have used the current route numbers, but the map avoids using route numbers as, if this schedule were implemented, route numbers would probably be changed.